Two Books and a Summer Stipend

April 07, 2010

Roger Barrus and James ArietiDr. James Arieti, Thompson Professor of Classics, and Dr. Roger Barrus, Elliott Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, have published a new translation of  Plato's Protagoras that will be released this spring by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.

Protagoras is a wild, splashy frolic - unpredictable, name-dropping, microscopically pedantic, galactically expansive - populated by a slew of characters who are naïve, pompous, vain, ostentatious, and even serious.  Plato’s prose is spectacularly suited to his subject matter - playfully crammed with puns, equivocations, sleights of sense, and burlesqued allusions to the classical literature of his day.  The challenges to translators are profound.  How can they clear the hurdle of two and a half thousand years to convey the substance and spirit of this far off conversation?

Drs. Arieti and Barrus have done their best and have still produced a volume twice as long as the original.  How could this have happened? They have held the text itself as sacrosanct.  Their method has been that of the Masoretes, those biblical scribes who elucidated the sacred text without altering it by establishing a non-invasive system of diacritical marks around the Hebrew letters to provide aid to readers.  Like those scholars,  Drs. Arieti and Barrus have put their helps around the text, in the form of an introduction to establish the scene, notes to gloss or interpret points in the dialogue, and appendices to illustrate the physical setting of the dialogue, to explain their choices of translations of particularly vexing terms, to review some of the recent interpretations of the poem by Simonides that Socrates and Protagoras wrangle over, and to show how Aristotle’s On Sophistical Refutations might throw light on the Protagoras. They have tried to be as faithful as possible to the text of Plato himself.

Dr. Dirk Johnson, Associate Professor of Modern Languages, has written a book, Nietzsche’s Anti-Darwinism, to be released in late summer by Cambridge University Press.

Friedrich Nietzsche's complex connection to Charles Darwin has been much explored, and both scholarly and popular opinions have tended to assume a convergence in their thinking.  In this study, Dr. Johnson challenges that assumption and takes seriously Nietzsche's own explicitly stated "anti-Darwinism."  He argues for the importance of Darwin for the development of Nietzsche's philosophy, but he places emphasis on the antagonistic character of their relationship and suggests that Nietzsche's mature critique against Darwin represents the key to understanding his broader (anti-)Darwinian position.  He also offers an original reinterpretation of the "Genealogy of Morals," a text long considered sympathetic to Darwinian naturalism, but which he argues should be taken as Nietzsche's most sophisticated critique of both Darwin and his followers.  The book will appeal to all who are interested in the philosophy of Nietzsche and its cultural context.




The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Dr. Marc Hight, Elliott Associate Professor of Philosophy, an NEH Summer Stipend.  This year’s grants were highly competitive.  The NEH received 1,023 applications but, given available resources, were able to fund only 85 awards.  Receiving the grant is a significant achievement.

Dr. Hight's project is "The Correspondence of George Berkeley."  He has a contract with Cambridge University Press to publish the critical, scholarly edition of the correspondence of Berkeley (18th century Irish philosopher and Anglican Bishop).  Dr. Hight will spend eight to ten weeks this summer in London, Dublin, and other sites in the UK working in archives, finding, transcribing, and checking the letters to and from Berkeley.

Dr. Hight has  secured a separate grant for Neil Smith '12 (above in blue shirt) of Slippery Rock, PA, to join him for two weeks to help work on the Berkeley letters at the British Library.

The goal is to produce a critical edition with annotations that will be the standard for Berkeley scholars.  The project will take about two additional years.